Quebec City, October 26, 2023 — Victoriaville's first circular economy conference was held on October 17-18 under the theme "Circularity, a Competitive Advantage for Industrial Businesses".
Victoriaville and its region aims to become the benchmark for excellence in the circular economy by driving forward innovative initiatives in sustainable development. The CRIBIQ and the City of Circular and Sustainable Innovation (Cité de l'innovation circulaire et durable), in collaboration with Cascades and the City of Victoriaville, host of the event, joined forces to organize the first edition.
Representatives from the industrial community took part in the event, which offered a program tailored to the realities and challenges of small, medium-sized and large businesses in terms of innovation and the circular economy. Delegates from various economic development organizations and students were also in attendance.
The participants were welcomed by André Lamontagne, Minister responsible for the Centre-du-Québec region and Quebec Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, who emphasized the crucial importance of innovation in today's economic landscape, and stated with conviction that the circular economy combined with innovation is the business model of the future, a concept that has the power to transform Quebec industries, create sustainable jobs and reduce our impact on the environment.
Mayer of the City of Victoriaville Antoine Tardif was visibily proud to welcome the first edition of the conference to Victoriaville, and was delighted to see the mobilization of entrepreneurs, researchers and partners who came to attend the event.
"With the scope and success of this first conference, I'm convinced that Victoriaville is on the right track by deciding to think big and put in the effort needed to become the true leader in sustainable development in Quebec, by propelling a green and circular economy in its territory," he declared.
"The City of Circular and Sustainable Innovation (Cité de l'innovation circulaire et durable) has already established itself as a benchmark in the Quebec firmament of the circular economy. The success of its first conference, in collaboration with the CRIBIQ, was achieved through the active participation of a wide range of partners, including representatives from the industrial community, researchers, professors and students. They all believe in the tremendous economic potential of the circular economy and share a desire to work together to position Quebec as an international leader in this field," mentioned Frédérik Boisvert, General Director of the Corporation de développement économique de Victoriaville et sa région (CDEVR) and Acting General Director of the City of Circular and Sustainable Innovation (Cité de l'innovation circulaire et durable).
On the first day, 125 attendees had the opportunity to hear from national and international speakers and panellists, including Ramona Liberoff, Executive Director of the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE), a Dutch public-private organization; Franck Aggeri, Professor of Management at the Centre de Gestion Scientifique (CGS) at Mines Paris school; and Yann Carré, Rental Experience Leader at Decathlon France.
Rafael Ziegler from HEC Montréal suggested that we draw inspiration from the cooperative model to design our circular business models; Isabelle Moïse from RECYC-QUÉBEC took the floor to give an overview of the state of circularity in Quebec; and Maor Zaltzhendler from Updata highlighted the vital role of artificial intelligence as a motor of sustainable development.
Participants also had the chance to attend three discussion panels that explored different facets of the circular economy. The first panel, moderated by Jennifer Pinna from the Centre de transfert technologique en écologie industrielle (CTTÉI), featured testimonials from three companies that have embarked on the circular economy journey. The second panel, led by Benjamin Laplatte of the Centre d’études et de recherches intersectorielles en économie circulaire (CERIEC), showcased Quebec business models built around circularity, spotlighting companies committed to reducing their environmental footprint and promoting sustainability. The third panel, moderated by Bernard Lefrançois from INOVEM addressed the importance of collaboration between academia and industry to bring innovative circular economy projects to fruition, capitalizing on scientific experience to create solutions that are both economically and environmentally beneficial. Panellists included Simon Barnabé, Victoriaville's Chief Scientific Advisor, and Sophie Séguin-Lamarche from Victoriaville's Sustainable Development Office (Bureau du développement durable).
The following day, nearly 50 participants had the priviledge of immersing themselves in the world of Cascades, a pioneer in sustainable development and a Quebec flagship whose circular economy practices have been proving their worth for almost 60 years. This immersive visit to Cascades reinforced our conviction that circularity is not only a competitive advantage for industrials, but also an essential path for the future of our planet.
"This event revealed that Quebec has an ecosystem of committed players keen to stimulate regional economic development and to generate industrial and territorial synergies," stated Claude Côté, Innovation Director responsible for the Circular Economy program at CRIBIQ, who is inviting people to consult the current call for projects aimed at supporting feasibility studies and the planning of innovative projects in the circular economy: Bringing Circularity to Life in the Bioeconomy: From Envisioning to Planning.